If you have seen the movie ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ you have probably seen the scene in which the leading actress is still a little girl and runs through a tunnel of torii gates, which can be best described as ‘orange poles’. This scene takes place at the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, a magical place in Kyoto. I would say it’s a must-see when visiting Japans former imperial capital.
Personal not: As you can read here in my last ‘#personal’ post I’m no longer going on a trip to Kyoto this spring. I really wanted to share some of Kyoto’s beauty with you all and have therefore re-written (and re-edited the pictures into collages to make the article more readable) an old article from my previous blog about the Fushimi Inari Shrine. I felt like the old article didn’t do justice to the shrine and lacked information about the torii gates.
Before you enter the long path full of torii gates you have to pass by a beautiful red shinto shrine where you can wash your hands with water. ‘Shinto’ is the main religion of Japan. According to altreligion.about.com the word Shinto roughly means “the way of the gods” and the religion “centers upon the relationship between practitioners and a multitude of supernatural entities called kami who are associated with all aspects of life.”
‘Inari’ is the Shinto kami of rice, as well as the name of the mountain on which the torii’s are located. Foxes are thought to be the ri messengers. Therefore, many fox statues can be found on the grounds of the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Here’s a little picture filled summary of my personal experience visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
The path lead up the mountain Inari, which stands at 233 meters. Pretty high from a Dutch point of view. So now and then there was a little shrines a long the road where you could pray. I saw this cute little girl doing so with her Oba-chan (grandma in Japanese) and hinted at Chris that he should make a picture while they still had their hands in praying position. He unfortunately wasn’t fast enough but the granny was so nice to make the little girl pose for us. Without asking she did a peace sign. Why do all Japanese take picture like this? I think it’s really cute though, no offense!
Further a long the road up the mountain I saw some other Japanese kids playing and, again, just had to snap a picture of them. Why are Asian baby’s so adorable? My Korean buddy here in Seoul tells me he doesn’t understand why I think Asian baby’s are cuter then Western baby’s. “Little ones from your country have such big eyes, that’s cute!”, he says. I honestly don’t know either where my preference comes from! Maybe because white baby’s are usually bald and overly pink (but also very cute!) or maybe I’m just more used to seeing blond haired tots with blue eyes.
The day we where at the shrine the sun was shining brightly and it was very hot. Luckily the torii’s stand in the middle of a forest, making it a nice and cool place to walk through. If your visiting Kyoto visiting the torii’s is a good thing to do on a hot day.
When Chris and I turned around we saw that one side of the torii’s had Japanese writing on them. We them realized that we had most likely walked the route backwards. At first we wanted to walk back through the gates, but my feet where to exhausted from the climb as I was dumbly wearing flat sandals instead of hiking shoes. I decided to take a short cut down.
Taking a short cut was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had as the above was the last torii and sign of civilization we would see for the coming half hour. I had chosen a path that led to the middle of nowhere! The path did bring us down hill but we ended up on the other side of the mountain, the train station we had to catch our train from was on the opposite side as well..